Adapting to life as a RUC student

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Adapting to life in Denmark can be quite a mouthful for foreign students coming to RUC. RUSK went out and asked three students what their biggest challenge was. 

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Roskilde University boasts about accepting an annual average of 500 international and exchange students from all over the world; I, myself, am from South Africa.  Often when I tell people this, their first response is to question my sanity; the second, is to ask why on earth I chose to relocate to Denmark, of all places.

This is a question that many internationals are faced with, perhaps especially those of us who hail from the further, and warmer, corners of the globe. Although the answers to the question may vary, many find it much easier to reply with the simplest of phrases in order to end the interrogation as soon as possible; ‘It’s the happiest country in the world here’.

However, as time begins to pass, there are moments in which we ask ourselves that very question. It’s not easy relocating to another country in which you know nothing and no one. There are days when I have asked myself ‘am I brave, or am I foolish?’.

Naturally, getting accustomed to a different society presents some very real challenges. Yes, we all talk about how bad the weather is but when speaking to some other international students, a whole variety of challenges or differences, were brought to light. Thus, I took to the streets of Trekroner and asked three students from three different countries to define what some of the biggest challenges, or differences, that they have faced were.

Jesus from Venezuela is studying International Public Administration and Politics. Photo: Elizabeth Benaya

Jesus from Venezuela is studying International Public Administration and Politics. Photo: Elizabeth Benaya

Jesus, IPAP, Venezuela

Although Jesus says that he has enjoyed a more relaxed daily life whilst living in Denmark than the one that he maintained in Caracas, he also notes that he misses the ‘culture of warmth’ in which people are always friendly and welcoming, even to strangers.

“In Venezuela, it’s possible to make friends while waiting in line at the bank, this is not a scenario that one would imagine happening in Denmark,” Jesus remarks.

Beth, Environmental Risk, Australia

Beth from Australia is studying Environmental Risk at RUC.

Beth from Australia is studying Environmental Risk at RUC.

“Finding somewhere to live, when I moved to Roskilde was a little stressful,’ Beth says.

The catastrophe that is the Danish accommodation system is seldom ever explained to incoming international students. Although RUC provides accommodation for exchange students,  those here as full-degree students are left to their own devices. For many whom have never even been to Denmark, and do not know how the system works, this proves to be a daunting challenge.

Marcos, Communication, Spain

Marcos from Spain is studying Communication at RUC. Photo: Elizabeth Benaya

Marcos from Spain is studying Communication at RUC. Photo: Elizabeth Benaya

“Being from Spain, a fellow European country, I didn’t feel such a big difference in the beginning. And that was actually what prevented me from being alert to the slight details that I should have taken into consideration. Thus, I started to disregard them: punctuality, politeness, loudness and privacy were amongst them,” Marcos discloses.

There is a whole host of differences, that international students face when arriving in Denmark. For example waiting a long time for a CPR number, getting accustomed to the concept of a ‘bike lane’, adjusting to trafic driving on the right side of the road, as well as coming to terms with the drinking culture. Many foreign students find that Danes tend to drink a substantial amount more, as well as more frequently, than what they are used to in their home countries.

During a recent panel discussion that was held by the International Office, in collaboration with some international students, some of these issues were finally addressed. Who knows? It is possible that future internationals will be better informed and prepared for their adjustment to life in Denmark.

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